I’m going to cut right to it. These are fantastic. And it’s not every day that I’d say such a thing about a turkey burger. Because most often, when I choose to use turkey, I’m substituting it for beef. Either ground turkey has gone on sale at the market or Pinterest has persuaded me—whichever happens first—and it always ends the same: I wish I’d picked up beef.
But that just isn’t so with these. Because buffalo-anything is tastier when using poultry. The hot sauce and the blue cheese—they’re far better highlighted when grouped with a milder flavored meat like chicken or turkey. Beef would overwhelm; it’d overpower the fine balance we’re trying to create between fiery hot sauce and the creamy, cool blue cheese.
To add moisture and bulk for a juicier, bigger burger, I added sautéed peppers and onions to the ground turkey before shaping the mixture into patties. I recommend cooking the peppers and onions rather than adding them raw because it brings out more of the rich, natural flavors in the veggies, but if you’re pressed for time or simply can’t bring yourself to dirty a skillet, you certainly don’t have to.
Another key ingredient is a bit of poultry seasoning. This blend of thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, and nutmeg is incredibly versatile in its usability when it comes to poultry (find it in the spice aisle of any grocery store; I use McCormick brand), and I especially love it in these burgers because it very gently enhances the flavor of the meat. It’s subtle enough that you can’t quite pinpoint each herb, but fragrant enough that the burgers are memorable. I really wanted to stay away from the bland turkey trap that most lean white meat burgers fall into, and I think focusing on enhancing the natural flavors of the bird rather than trying to mimic a beef burger is what allowed me to do that.
Lastly and bestly, the blue cheese sauce. Heavens, yes.
Now, I won’t take credit for having made anything truly groundbreaking here, but I will say that I’ve solved the single most difficult problem that I and all fellow blue cheese lovers have faced for millennia, which is—how to keep blue cheese crumbles from falling off of one’s burger. Nightmare.
The solution as of 12:24pm on Sunday, January 13, 2013: Mix equal parts blue cheese crumbles and blue cheese dressing, stir into a thick sauce, and spread atop your burger.
The ultimate dilemma: blue cheese dressing or blue cheese crumbles? Solved. And condiments? Done.
All that remains to be fixed now is the situation with the blue cheese dribble on my shirt and in my lap, but I’ve got a wide-open afternoon before the Golden Globes to solve that.
Buffalo Turkey Burgers
makes 4 burgers
For the burgers:
1 pound 93% lean ground turkey breast
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
2 scallions, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
For the blue cheese sauce:
½ cup blue cheese crumbles
½ cup blue cheese dressing (recommended: Ken’s Steakhouse Lite Chunky Blue Cheese)
extra hot sauce for serving (optional)
Make the burgers: In a small skillet over medium heat, sauté onion and bell pepper for two minutes, until just beginning to soften. Add garlic, turn off the heat, and stir for 30 seconds. Remove to a small bowl and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add the cooled onion/pepper mixture and use your hands to mix well.
Form 4 evenly sized patties.
Preheat your oven’s broiler. Place the patties on a lightly greased baking pan and broil for 4-5 minutes per side, until the burgers are no longer pink in their centers.
Make the blue cheese sauce: Stir blue cheese crumbles and dressing in a small bowl. Spread evenly over the top of each burger patty. Drizzle with additional hot sauce if desired.
Nutrition Information for 1 Turkey Patty, Plain (without blue cheese sauce): Calories 182, Fat 9.2 g, Total Carbohydrate 2.9 g, Dietary Fiber 0.6 g, Sugars 0.6 g, Protein 22.4 g
Nutrition Information for 1 Turkey Patty with 1/4th of the Blue Cheese Sauce: Calories 319, Total Fat 20.9 g, Total Carbohydrate 6.4 g, Dietary Fiber 0.7 g, Sugars 1.9 g, Protein 26.4 g